I come from two very strong families. My parents were raised by good, amazing people (my grandparents) who sacrificed, taught, and loved for the good of their family and posterity. I would not be who I am if it were not for them.
Of course then there is the other side. The side where there are expectations about who you are and who you will become because are part of these great families. I can't tell you how many times someone has nodded their head and said, "OOOOHHHH, you are a .... (insert one of the family names)" or "You're C and M's daughter" as if that immediately tells them who I am.
Perhaps it does.
I have made plenty of decisions based on up holding the family name. I have always wanted my parents and my grandparents to be proud of who I am and the choices I was making. Now, don't get me wrong, I made plenty of wrong choices all of which were purely selfish and thoughtless. But knowing who I am, where I came from and where I was going gave me a foundation that helped me when I struggled.
As I watched my children laughing and eating dinner last night, I wondered if they felt the same way about us as parents and grandparents. I worried that my expectations were too high for them. I don't want or expect them to be perfect. I do want them to work hard and do the best they can in the circumstances they are in. I reflected to the conversation we had had a few days prior. It had been a rough morning filled with unkind words and general disobedience. I was struggling to be a good parent and the children were seeing the hypocrisy of my actions and words.
In a heap of tears I sat everyone down and apologized for the difficult morning. I begged for their forgiveness as I told them I was doing the best that I could, but I knew that it was not enough. I assured them that I loved them and that I would always love them, but that I would continue to make mistakes because I was learning right along side of them.
Then I said, "I won't be able to be the perfect kind of mother that you can use as an example of marvelous control and example, but I hope that I will always be the kind of mother that can admit her mistakes and try again. That is the only kind of person I know how to be and I'm not giving up on you or myself."
See that is the kind of person I learned to be from my parents and my grandparents. I can't think of specific things that they have done wrong, but the very nature of life on earth is about overcoming our weaknesses and mistakes. I see in their examples the strength to work hard and overcome challenges as they come. Their lives and examples give me hope to start again, to put one step in front of the other and cling to the rod. Their words and voices echo in my mind to stand firm and love.